Tiny, tusked water chevrotains, half-deer-half-pig, virtually unchanged in 30 million years of evolution, graze alongside streams frequented by leopards, giant forest hogs, and river otters in Sapo National Park.

Virgin rain forest that once covered much of humid lowland West Africa remains relatively untouched in this small coastal country originally settled by freed American slaves. However, civil wars and their fallout have devastated Liberia and its wildlife has not been spared.

What once was the last, best stronghold of fast disappearing forest elephants was here; now total population is estimated at 100–200 individuals. Pygmy hippopotamus numbers also have been sharply reduced.

Among 125 other large mammal species, almost all affected by years of civil unrest, are bongos with chestnut-and-white striped sides,along with Jentink’s duikers, with black heads and necks and white collars, whose Afrikaans name translates as “diver” for their habit of diving into thick cover when startled. Others include leopards, colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, honey badgers, mongeese, African civets.


Some deep forest areas still are uncatalogued, but at least 610 bird species are known to be here including rufous fishing owls, copper-tailed glossy starlings, yellow-bearded greenbuls, and rare white-breasted guinea fowl. A 1999 survey in one area found a rare black-collared lovebird (a parrot), which had not been seen here in over 100 years.

There are some 74 known reptiles and amphibians, over 2,000 flowering plants, and more than 1,000 described insects.


SAPO NATIONAL PARK as well as...

Mount Nimba

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